April 20, 2014

4:21 PM | Perverse outcomes: Lifting U.S. oil export ban would mean greater dependence on foreign oil
The United States today is a large net importer of crude oil and refined products. And, yet the story that the country can somehow export crude oil as a foreign policy measure to help reduce Ukraine's dependence on Russia won't die. Oil executives and their surrogates keep bringing it up, and unsuspecting reporters amplify a message that has absolutely no basis.The reason for this oil industry public relations blitz on the Ukraine is rooted in the industry's desire to end a decades-old ban on […]

April 19, 2014

11:43 AM | Aunt Pythia’s advice
Great to be here, and glad you came. Please hop on the nerd advice column bus for another week of ridiculous if not damaging guidance from yours truly, Aunt Pythia. And please, after enjoying today’s counsel to other poor, unsuspecting fools: think of something to ask Aunt Pythia at the bottom of the page! By the way, […]
7:08 AM | I CANNOT believe this was published
Via Egon Willighagen, a truly bizarre article in Drug Discovery Today that appears to have been accepted for publication:In drug discovery, de novo potent leads need to be synthesized for bioassay experiments in a very short time. Here, a protocol using DrugPrinter to print out any compound in just one step is proposed. The de novo compound could be designed by cloud computing big data. The computing systems could then search the optimal synthesis condition for each bond–bond […]

April 18, 2014

3:10 PM | Lawsuit stemming from November 2013 rainbow flame incident
Via DNAinfo Chicago, news of a lawsuit:LINCOLN PARK — The mother of a student who was burned in a chemistry lab fire at Lincoln Park High School is suing the school, Chicago Public Schools and the teacher involved.Jennifer Dryden, the mother of student Tatiana Schwirblat, filed the lawsuit last week arguing the chemistry teacher, Joy Walter, and other defendants were negligent. The chemistry lab fire broke out just before noon Nov. 25 and injured a total of five students, authorities said […]
1:58 PM | Notes from the broader economy
From this morning's news trawl, an interesting comment on wage increases in the broader economy. From the Wall Street Journal: Are American workers finally starting to see some decent wage increases? A report Thursday offers hope, showing incomes picked up at a healthy pace in the first three months of the year. The weekly earnings of the typical full-time worker rose 3% in the first quarter compared to a year earlier, the fastest pace since 2008, the Labor Department said. That […]
1:56 PM | A week of links
Links this week: It’s from late last year, but this piece on the biological origins of morality is worth reading. A new journal, Economic Anthropology, with the debut issue on greed and excess (and sorry, gated for those without academic access). Diane Coyle points to some older work on wealth and inheritance. She also pointed […] The post A week of links appeared first on Evolving Economics.
11:23 AM | The Lede Program has awesome faculty
A few weeks ago I mentioned that I’m the Program Director for the new Lede Program at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. I’m super excited to announce that I’ve found amazing faculty for the summer part of the program, including: Jonathan Soma, who will be the primary instructor for Basic Computing and for Algorithms Dennis […]

April 17, 2014

3:43 PM | Taking a student loan in graduate school? The government is making money from you
Jordan Weissman at Slate has the details: ...At the same time, the government will lose a small amount of money on direct loans to undergraduates, which make up more than half of its lending operation. While the Department of Education makes a profit on unsubsidized Stafford loans to college goers, it takes a hit on subsidized Staffords that go to low- and middle-income undergrads. When everything shakes out, the programs combine for a 10-year, $3 billion net loss. ...Now back to […]
11:04 AM | The US political system serves special interests and the rich
A paper written by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page and entitled Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens has been recently released and reported on (h/t Michael Crimmins) that studies who has influence on policy in the United States. Here’s an excerpt from the abstract of the paper: Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites […]

April 16, 2014

3:45 PM | Eastman advertising chemicals in 1963
I didn't know Analytical Chemistry ran ads back in the day.
10:46 AM | How recently have you experienced democracy? #OWS
A few weeks ago Omar Freilla came to talk to my Occupy group. Omar is a founder of the Green Worker Cooperatives and shared his experience as an organizer. He is a well-spoken guy and talked passionately about forming community cooperatives, where workers “have a direct role in decision-making and a share of all profits, build community wealth and help make […]

April 15, 2014

2:55 PM | No-response rejections from major university graduate programs?
I've heard anecdotal reports about major graduate programs accepting application fees and not sending any communications or rejections -- have you heard anything about this? (NB, it wasn't in chemistry, but it was a science/engineering field.) 
11:22 AM | Let’s experiment more
What is an experiment? The gold standard in scientific fields is the randomized experiment. That’s when you have some “treatment” you want to impose on some population and you want to know if that treatment has positive or negative effects. In a randomized experiment, you randomly divide a population into a “treatment” group and a “control […]

April 14, 2014

9:51 PM | I'm not dead
Really, I'm not.(Also, I hate the banking industry.) 
10:41 AM | People who obsessively exercise are boring
I’m not saying anything you don’t know already. I’m just stating the obvious: people who obsessively exercise are super boring. They talk all the time about their times, and their workout progress, and their aching muscles, and it’s like you don’t even have to be there, you could just replace yourself with a gadget that […]

April 13, 2014

4:23 PM | Did crude oil production actually peak in 2005?
"Wait a minute," you must be saying. "Haven't we been hearing from the oil industry and from government and international agencies that worldwide oil production has been increasing in the last several years?" The answer, of course, is yes. But, the deeper question is whether this assertion is actually correct.Here is a key fact that casts doubt on the official reporting: When the industry and the government talk about the price of oil sold on world markets and traded on futures exchanges, they […]

April 12, 2014

12:01 PM | Aunt Pythia’s advice
Readers, readers! Aunt Pythia rarely does this, and really has never ever made up a question, but she absolutely needs to share a couple of things that nobody even came close to asking about this week. And yes, they’re about sex, or at least about genitals. Please skip this next section, and possibly all Aunt […]

April 11, 2014

1:42 PM | Humbling wingnuts
I have just read Cass Sunstein’s short collection of essays How to Humble a Wingnut and Other Lessons from Behavioral Economics. It is a decent summary of the behavioural science literature on political bias, although there are few surprises and not a lot of fresh opinion. The one piece new to me concerned the moderation […] The post Humbling wingnuts appeared first on Evolving Economics.
10:59 AM | Envy, greed, and the American Dream #OWS
I was sent this Falkenblog post entitled Why Envy Dominates Greed a while back (hat tip David Murrell). The post suggests an interesting thought experiment which I’d like to discuss this morning. Namely, it asks us to examine the extent to which our economic assumption that “everyone is working in their own self-interest” can be […]
12:10 AM | A friendly note from the FDA
Via Pharma Manufacturing, Reuters has some tough news about GSK's API manufacturing facility (emphasis mine):The U.S. FDA issued a warning letter to GlaxoSmithKline after determining that GSK did not take sufficient action to resolve problems after contaminated APIs were found at the drugmaker's Ireland manufacturing plant. The contaminated ingredient, paroxetine, is used to make antidepressant drugs Paxil and Seroxat. During an October inspection, an FDA investigator reported that […]

April 10, 2014

4:51 PM | The dumbest thing you will read all day
Via John Spevacek, this WSJ op-ed on the lack of petroleum engineering departments in elite universities contains an absolutely ahistorical statement (emphasis mine): The oil and gas industry has been historically volatile and marked by boom-and-bust cycles caused by fluctuating commodity prices, with company prospects often tied to hit-or-miss exploratory drilling. Not surprisingly, the industry has struggled with periodic brain drain since the 1980s as students looking for steady […]
4:22 PM | Job postings from all around
From the inbox, lots of job postings:Pleasanton, CA: CooperVision is looking for an experienced M.S./Ph.D. chemist to be a senior scientist working new materials for contact lenses. (5+ years for Ph.D. candidate, 12+ years for M.S.)South San Francisco and Markham, ON, CA: A variety of sales and technical positions at Fluidigm, in the United States and around the world (including a number of chemistry positions in Canada.) Sounds really interesting.Boston, MA: Looks like Ensemble […]
3:03 PM | Daily Pump Trap: 4/10/14 edition
Good morning. For now, a smattering of postings from C&EN Jobs that are interesting and/or relevant: Synthetic biochemistry?: GSK has a very interesting posting for organic chemists of a certain bent:We are investing heavily in new technologies for the manufacture of our drugs under an initiative termed Advanced Manufacturing Technologies (AMT). Among these technologies the Synthetic Biochemistry team (a cross-divisional, cross-scientific function, global team) is seeking to develop […]
10:54 AM | Does OpenSSL bug prove that open source code doesn’t work?
By now most of you have read about the major bug that was found in OpenSSL, an open source security software toolkit. The bug itself is called the Heartbleed Bug, and there’s lots of information about it and how to fix it here. People are super upset about this, and lots of questions remain. For […]
12:03 AM | Conference board: US real GDP was 1.9% for 2013
Last year, I offered cash stakes ($10) for anyone who would take the over on a over/under bet for US real GDP for 2013. Well, the US Conference Board finally (today) put the magic "actual value" asterisk on Q4:That means that, likelier than not, real GDP for 2013 was up 1.9%, which means that I lost the cash bet to @Brandon_Vara. Brandon, e-mail me your address and I'll get you that ten-spot -- don't spend it all at once.It should be noted that See Arr Oh, @Lewis_Lab and @UnstableIsotope all […]

April 09, 2014

6:17 PM | We're right on schedule
3:37 PM | Want to see chemical entrepreneurs in action?
Click here for the ACS ERC 2014 Showcase East, live from Boston, Massachusetts! (livestreamed via YouTube)or, watch here: Here's the official program for the day. 
1:32 PM | The magic of commerce
A re-read of The Malay Archipelago reminded me of Alfred Russel Wallace’s occasional bleeding-heart libertarian leanings. From his time in remote Dobo in the Aru Islands of Eastern Indonesia: I daresay there are now near five hundred people in Dobbo of various races, all met in this remote corner of the East, as they express […] The post The magic of commerce appeared first on Evolving Economics.
11:37 AM | Let’s stop talking about HFT for a little while
It’s unusual that I find myself in the position of defending Wall Street activities, but here goes. I just don’t think HFT is that big of a deal relative to other Wall Street evils. I have written a couple of times about HFT and I’m not a huge fan, and I don’t buy the “liquidity is good […]

April 08, 2014

6:55 PM | Weird thought for the day
There's this trope that Big Pharma doesn't develop "cures" because it will ruin the market or there's not enough incentive to do so (i.e. if they can't sell lots of pills, the market won't be big enough. Here's a good example of that thinking.)So here's Gilead's Sovaldi, which is as close to "a cure" of Hepatitis C as we've seen in a while; it sure is expensive, running about $84,000 for an entire 12-week course. Isn't this proof positive that Big Pharma will work on cures, and if it finds one, […]
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